Superintendent

Superintendent - Mark A. Place

42 W. Main St., Milford, NY 13807 - 607-286-7721

JUNE 2018
Another school year has nearly come and passed.  This time of the year is a good time to reflect and celebrate.  I believe that the key to our success lies not in anything elaborate, but rather in the strength of our relationships and our dedication to standing up for our values: Pride, Honesty, Respect, and Excellence.

New Initiatives in 2017-2018

On September 15th, over 400 members of our community came together to celebrate the start of the school year at our 1st Annual Community BBQ and Bonfire.  By all measures it was a success, and we have already begun to plan for next year.

We also asked our teachers to think beyond their classroom walls and seek out experiential learning experiences for our students including field trips.  The challenge was accepted, and here are some of the places our students have gone this year:  a pumpkin patch, the Farmers Museum, the Aquarium in Amsterdam, the Museum of Technology & Science in Syracuse, Golden Artists in New Berlin, the Quiz Bowl competition in Chicago, a number of college visits (MVCC, Delhi, Cobleskill, SUCO, Binghamton), the Biologic Field Station in Cooperstown, a trip to Woodstock, the Health Expo in Oneonta, theatrical productions at SUCO (Of Mice and Men, Honk!), the Fossil Museum in Gilboa, and Physics Day at Great Escape. 

These initiatives are meant to strengthen the experiences for our students so that we can continue to move MCS toward becoming the best rural district in New York.  We are well on our way!

Milestones

In just a few weeks, we will celebrate significant milestones for members of our MCS family. 

Graduation.  For our seniors, many will be pursuing higher education and with that will come new experiences, meeting new people and possibly living away from home for the first time.  For some of our seniors, the next chapter will mean service to their country, and for others, it will mean entering the workforce.  Regardless of what the next chapter holds, to each of our seniors:  we congratulate you, and we wish you the best in all of your future endeavors. 

Retirement.  For our retirees, the next chapter will start on a very unfamiliar note.  This September will be the first time in decades that they will not come to school.  Mrs. Wilber we applaud your more than 25 years of dedicated service to the students of Milford.   To Mr. Tiemann, we thank you for dedication to keeping our fleet of buses safe for our students for the last 15 years.  To our retirees:  enjoy every minute of your retirement, and always feel free to stop in and let us know of your latest adventures.  Best wishes to each of you!

For our students and staff who will be joining us again in September, we have reached the end of another school year, yet the new school year is already on the horizon.  Each of us will be a part of the next chapter at MCS, and I look forward to writing that chapter with you. 

Enjoy your summer, and I will see you in September!



MARCH - APRIL 2018

Mental Health

On one of the doors of our School-Based Health Center is a sticker that states “Mental Health is just health”.  I go by that sticker multiple times a day, and it’s a topic that I’m not sure that our community fully grasps the enormity of.  In the very short time that I’ve been at MCS, nearly a dozen students have had mental health crises that have resulted in hospitalization.  And many more of our students are struggling each and every day.

This year, mental health has become the number one priority for school administrators in NY.  Collectively we are all coming to the realization that we have a crisis that in many instances far exceeds our ability to respond. We are very fortunate at MCS to have invested in our counseling program and to have established our partnership with the Bassett School-Based Health Center.  We have a top-notch team; however, even we find ourselves struggling to meet the mental health needs of all of our students.

Last year I was fortunate to sit on one of the senior SIP presentations which took us on a journey through the experience of living with a sibling with bi-polar disorder.  It was a very moving and heart wrenching story.  The compassion and empathy this senior had for her sibling was inspiring.  And it made me realize that sharing our stories is how we break the stigma of talking about mental health.   

In my own life, I have close friends and relatives who battle each and every day to overcome their own mental health challenges.  The strength it takes for them to continue their battle and get up each and every day to face the world inspires me. 

And so, I bring that inspiration to work each day when I ask our staff to dig deep and find the compassion and empathy necessary to make a difference in the lives of our students.  And I ask that because we rarely know the battles that are being fought.  We work tirelessly to make connections with our students because the research shows that the best deterrent of teen suicide is a positive relationship with a caring adult.

Over the next year, we will be working to strengthen our mental health services, and I will be asking for the support of the community as we invest in this work.  Our goal is to have each and every student understand that “Mental health is just health”.

Together, as a community, we will make MCS an exemplar for other school districts on how to address the growing mental health crisis.



JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2018

When this newsletter reaches you, we will be nearly half way through the school year. The second half of the year is always busy with budgets, scheduling for the next year, and preparing for testing.  This year, we are going to start planning for the next school year much sooner than we have done in the past.  Our goal is to have plans in place well before the current school year is out so that everyone can be part of helping move MCS toward becoming the best rural district in NY!

Here are some of the initiatives we will be working on:

  • CROP Summer Program:As long as the federal government continues to fund the 21st Century Community Learning Grant, we expect to hold our CROP summer program as we did this past year.This program will serve students in grades K-8 for two weeks during the summer.
  • Code of Conduct:We will be updating our student Code of Conduct to better reflect our current practices and to make the document more comprehensive.In the new document we will address positive behavioral interventions, a tiered approach to dealing with misbehavior, and a more comprehensive list of defined behaviors and their consequences.Our goal is to have a new Code of Conduct in place for the start of the 2018-2019 school year.  Staff, faculty, students, parents and the community will be asked for your input/feedback along the way.
  • School Supplies:We will not be asking families to purchase school supplies this coming school year.We believe that the cost of materials that we deem necessary to provide an appropriate education should be borne by the school and not be an added expense for families.
  • School-wide Field Trip Day:We have set aside funds in the budget to be able to support experiential learning experiences including field trips. We are exploring the idea of having a day in which every student in grades PK-12 will be on a field trip that is directly related to the curriculum.


NOVEMBER- DECEMBER 2017

Pride in Our School & Community

Thank you to the over 400 members of our community who attended the 1st Annual Community BBQ and Bonfire!

Additional thanks to the Milford Education Fund for their $500 donation, Brooks' BBQ for their generous discount and $200 donation, the NY State Insurance Reciprocal for their $500 donation, Jackie's for supplying all the paper products, the MCS Booster Club for supplying all the beverages, the Atwells for the firewood, the Stanfords for the games, the MCS staff for all the desserts, and to all the individuals who donated their time.

We hope everyone had an enjoyable time, and we look forward to hosting additional events to bring the community together.

 

A Servant Mindset and Being Thankful

As we enter into November and the celebration of Thanksgiving, I hope that each one of us takes a moment to be grateful for all that we have.  I’m thankful for each day that I get to spend with our incredible staff.  They are upbeat and work tirelessly to bring their best each day so that we can best serve our students.  I’m thankful for the students who fill our hallways with laughter and remind me each day what we are working so hard for.  And I’m thankful for being part of a community that values education and supports our school.

This year we have seen the impact that Mother Nature has had on our country.  I want to applaud our community for coming together and sending truckloads of supplies to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

I hope that as we enter the holiday season we remember that many of our neighbors and fellow countrymen will be struggling to make ends meet.  Our compassion and generosity will be on full display for the world to see, and I know that Milford will find our own unique way to show the world how much we care. 

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

FALL 2017

PRIDE

 After graduation one of our former graduates asked me what my vision was for the school district.  My response was simply what I have ended each of my prior newsletter articles with:

 For MCS to become the best rural district in NY.

 And that is where I would like to start our discussion as a community this year.  What will it take for us to become the best rural district in NY?

 There are the four words found on the MCS shield, and they represent the core values that guide our work at MCS---Pride, Respect, Excellence, and Honesty.  These core values have been and will continue to be the keys to MCS’ success.  Each year we will select a core value to highlight, and this year “Pride” will be our focus.

 Pride in Our School & Community:

We are planning several opportunities for everyone who calls Milford home to show their pride in our school and community.  Please join us on September 15th for our 1st Annual Community BBQ and Bonfire from 5-9PM.

 Pride in Our Instructional Program:

The strength of our instructional program lies with our exceptional teaching staff.  In order to become an exemplar for other schools, we will be reviewing our curriculum and sharing with other schools our best teaching practices.  We have also set aside money in the budget to strengthen our support for experiential learning---including field trips.  We believe that all students should leave MCS with experiences that occur outside the classroom.

Pride in Our Facilities: 

Providing an excellent environment for our students to learn and our teachers to teach will require us to address nearly $2 million in needed repairs.  The community approved a capital reserve last year for $500,000, and that reserve is now fully funded.  We will begin discussions this year on a capital project to repair and upgrade our current facility.

Pride in Our Extracurricular Activities & After School Programs

We will strengthen our support for not only athletics, but also for our music program, clubs, and after school opportunities.  We are excited to be able to bring back CROP (Creating Rural Opportunities Program) which will provide after school activities for students in grades K-8 from 3-5 PM daily throughout the school year.

Milford is a great place to live, work, and learn, and we want everyone far and wide to know that.  Together we will continue to move MCS toward becoming the best rural district in NY.  Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year!


JUNE, 2017

THE NEXT CHAPTER

 

It is once again that time of the year where we celebrate milestones and prepare for the next chapter at MCS.

For our seniors, the next chapter means independence.  For many, they will be pursuing higher education and with that will come new experiences, meeting new people and possibly living away from home for the first time.  For some of our seniors, the next chapter will mean service to their country, and for others, it will mean entering the workforce.  Regardless of what the next chapter holds, graduation is a milestone worthy of celebration.  To each of our seniors:  we congratulate you, and we wish you the best in all of your future endeavors. 

For our retirees, the next chapter will start on a very unfamiliar note.  This upcoming September will be the first time in decades that they will not come to school.  Mrs. Prouty, Mrs. Ritter, Mrs. Sittler, and Mrs. Teftt, we applaud your dedication and service to the students of Milford---you have touched many lives.   To our retirees:  enjoy every minute of your retirement, and always feel free to stop in and let us know of your latest adventures.  Best wishes to each of you!

For our students and staff who will be joining us again in September, we have reached the end of another school year, yet the new school year is already on the horizon.  Having been at MCS for nearly a year, I have learned that the key to our success lies not in anything elaborate, but rather in the strength of our relationships and our dedication to standing up for our values: Pride, Honesty, Respect, and Excellence.  Each of us will be a part of the next chapter at MCS, and I look forward to writing that chapter with you.  Together we will continue to move MCS toward becoming the best rural district in New York.

Enjoy your summer, and I will see you in September!


MARCH-MAY, 2017


Excellence, Measuring Success, and Opting Out

The MCS shield has four words inscribed: Pride, Respect, Honesty, and Excellence. The first half of the school year we focused on “Respect”. Respect is the foundation upon which relationships are built, and the strength of our relationships allows MCS to be a great place to work and learn.

As we turn our focus to the second half of the school year, we will begin the yearly process of measuring our success. As I reflect on the words on the shield, “Excellence” is the one that for me most closely aligns with success. That then raises the question: How do we measure excellence for MCS?

For the district’s taxpayers, excellence could be measured by whether the taxes collected are used responsibly and produce a quality education for our students. For our parents, it could be measured by the academic strides their children make and whether they feel safe while at school. For our teachers, it could be whether they were able to help each of their students make a year’s worth of growth. And for our students, perhaps it could be measured by whether MCS is a safe place to take risks and whether they can flourish both academically and socially.

Measuring success was my primary job responsibility when I worked for the City School District of Albany. I was responsible for all of the data and assessments including the NY State 3-8 ELA and Math Assessments. As your educational leader, I will always give you my honest opinion.

  Do I believe that the NY State 3-8 Assessments are a measure of academic excellence? No.

  Do I believe they should be used to measure teacher performance? Absolutely not.

  Do I believe the data from the assessments have value? Possibly, but only when used in the right context.

  If my own child was in grades 3-8 would I opt them out of the assessments? No.

I have followed very closely the opt-out debate, and I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about what I would do as a parent. First and foremost, I would never opt my child out of the 3rd or 8th grade assessments. Why? Because they are the first and final opportunities to see how your child performs in comparison to other students at the same grade level from around the State. The State also provides each student with a “percentile rank”, and I have found that this piece of data is very reliable. If a child makes a year’s worth of growth, their percentile rank should remain the same as the prior year.

The question then becomes: How often do I want my child tested so that I can assure they are making adequate progress? For some parents the answer may be every year. For others it may be less frequently. If you have a child in grades 3-8 and would like to discuss the NY State assessments, please feel free to contact me via email or setup an appointment to meet with me.

At MCS we strive for excellence every day, and together we will continue to move MCS toward becoming the best rural district in NY.


NOVEMBER-DECEMBER, 2016

A Service Mindset and Being Thankful

“Service Above Self” is the motto of Rotary International.   I had the privilege of being both a Rotary Exchange Student as a high school student and later a Rotarian as an adult.  That motto has been part of my life now for nearly 30 years.   As the educational leader at Milford Central School, I believe that it is our collective responsibility each day to find ways to remove barriers that prevent others from reaching their greatest potential.  In the classroom, teachers, LTAS and aides work to remove barriers so that our students can be successful.  Our bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and cleaners make sure that our environment is not a barrier to the learning environment.  And our parents provide the love and support to their children so that they can come to school each day ready to learn.

There are many ways for each of us to be of service to others, and from the very little time that I’ve been at MCS, I know that this is already part of the “Milford Way”.  I’ve witnessed firsthand how you take care of each other, and it is truly something to be thankful for.

Speaking of being thankful.  We will soon be heading into the holiday season, and many of us will be spending time with our family and friends.  By far, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is a time for both reflection and for giving thanks.  I’m thankful for each day that I get to spend with our incredible staff.  They are upbeat and work tirelessly to bring their best each day so that we can best serve our students.  I’m thankful for the students who fill our hallways with laughter and remind me each day what we are working so hard for.  And I’m thankful for being part of a community that values education and supports our school.

As we continue to move through the school year, I hope that each of us will find ways to be of service to others.  And as we work to do so, I’m hopeful that we will remember to be thankful for those around us who make our days just a little bit easier by removing barriers that are in our way.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!



SUMMER, 2016

As the new superintendent of schools, I would like to give you a little background about myself and my thoughts regarding the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

I grew up not far from Milford---between Norwich and Oneonta---and I attended South New Berlin Central School.  After spending a year as a Rotary Exchange student in Australia, I returned to South New Berlin where I graduated as valedictorian.  I then pursued my Bachelors’ degree in Secondary Education at SUNY Plattsburgh and returned to the area in January, 1996 to begin my teaching career at Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton. I eventually moved on to teach at the Alternative Learning Center in Grand Gorge until I moved to Albany in 2001 to pursue my Masters’ degree in Educational Administration.  After completing my graduate work, I returned to teaching for six years before moving into a district-level administrator role for the City School District of Albany.

Early in my career, I knew that I wanted to be the Superintendent of a school district that would be small enough for me to know each member of our learning community including our staff, teachers, students, and families.   Since the day I interviewed to be your Superintendent, I knew that MCS was the perfect fit for me.   Milford exudes a sense of community, and it has been humbling to be met with such open arms.  Thank you for such a warm welcome!

This year, we will build upon the legacy that Mr. Livshin left behind.  He was your Superintendent for nearly 20 years, and he helped create one of the best rural districts in NY State.  Although pivotal in the district’s success, Mr. Livshin didn’t achieve this success alone.  From the Board of Education to the classroom, every member of the MCS staff---aides, bus drivers, business office staff, cafeteria workers, clerical staff, custodians, counselors, nurses, psychologists, teaching assistants, and teachers---played their part in making this an exceptional learning environment for our over 400 students.

The district’s long-term focus on pride, respect, excellence, and honesty are the foundation upon which we will continue to build.  Along with Ms. Glavin and the dedicated staff and teachers, we will work together to create a working and learning environment that is safe to take risks and which values individual contributions.  To our students, families and community members, we can’t do this without you.  We invite you to partner with us to make MCS the best place to work and learn.

Finally, my personal goal is to finish my career here in Milford and see this year’s Pre-K students graduate in the year 2030.  I look forward to taking this journey with them through the next 14 years.  Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year!